Football programs stay sharp during summer session

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Summers do not mean vacation for everyone. San Diego’s football programs have commenced summer session training and East County schools are doing their part to keep their teams in shape for a competitive season come the new school year.

Games are held all summer, all over the county. On Friday, July 7, two-dozen teams rolled into Southwestern College in Chula Vista for a two-day tournament, with Grossmont Conference schools like Helix, Valhalla, and El Capitan ready to scope out the competition.

Summers do not mean vacation for everyone. San Diego’s football programs have commenced summer session training and East County schools are doing their part to keep their teams in shape for a competitive season come the new school year.

Games are held all summer, all over the county. On Friday, July 7, two-dozen teams rolled into Southwestern College in Chula Vista for a two-day tournament, with Grossmont Conference schools like Helix, Valhalla, and El Capitan ready to scope out the competition.

Mount Miguel Head coach Shaun McDade said these tournaments are a great opportunity to gauge what the autumn will bring. 

“Especially in a tournament like this,” he said, “it’s mostly local teams from our league and our division so you get a look at what everyone has and what you’re up against.” 

With so many schools present, said SWC Athletic Director Jim Spillers, there is a good cross-section of preseason, postseason and league competition to scout.

“In high school football, the summer seven-on-seven’s has become more the rule than the exception,” said Spillers. “They’re all doing it and this gives them a tournament platform to see schools in their conferences, schools outside, schools they may see in CIF.” 

Lincoln High School won the tournament against Torrey Pines in the championship game on Friday. St. Augustine High School, who lost to Helix in the 2015 Open Division Championship, won the loser’s bracket, taking third.

Apart from keeping students focused and in the game while out of school, passing league, as the summer scrimmages are usually called, is crucial for refining important functions of the team, said McDade. The seven-on-seven plays are meant to hone specific skill positions.

“It’s a way to get out here and get the kids to compete during the off-season, no pads or anything,” he said. “It really helps the quarterbacks and receivers get their timing down and helps the defensive passing — a lot of the stuff that during the season you don’t have a lot of time to practice on.”

Defensive plays, offensive tactics, all the technical aspects of a football game are tested in the passing league, long before the season begins.

“It’s an integral part of the summer training session,” said Spillers.

For the college, however, the tournament is a chance to introduce players to the campus and facilities, Spillers said.

“SWC gets tremendous exposure from our regional athletes,” he said. “It’s that exposure to institutions of higher learning, specifically SWC, that makes it worth it. We get hundreds of young men who’ve never been here, their parents have never been here, and we’re exposing them to the incredible facilities and our incredible college.”

SWC has been hosting a passing league tournament every summer for nearly a decade, but the new field house, training rooms and lockers, and other various renovations from the Proposition R funds did not open until August 2015. SWC offensive line coach Kenn Wilmesherr said the facilities practically sell themselves.

“When I was at Grossmont College, we had an offensive line camp there for ten years,” said Wilmesherr. “We didn’t make money off of it but the thing is that you want to bring kids on campus. You have four junior colleges in San Diego and we’re all trying to get the same kids.”

San Diego State University holds a two-week passing league tournament for the same reason, Wilmesherr said. 

Summer practices and passing league tournaments will continue for several more weeks before the school bells ring and what has been practiced in sunshine gets put into play beneath Friday night-lights.

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